Saturday’s NFL Scores & Highlights


December 25th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

UNDATED (AP) — After a decade of losing, the Detroit Lions are in the playoffs. And the San Diego Chargers are out. With their fans chanting “PLAYOFFS” for the final minutes, Detroit got there for the first time since 1999 as Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes in the first half to beat the Chargers 38-10. Following the game, coach Jim Schwartz and the players did a victory lap at Ford Field, high-fiving fans in the front row. The Chargers missed the postseason for a second straight year after making it five times in a six-season stretch. And that might cost coach Norv Turner his job after his underachieving team fell to 7-8.

Elsewhere around the NFL:

—Baltimore and Pittsburgh continue to share the AFC North lead after getting to 11-4 with wins on the day before Christmas. But the Ravens hold the tiebreaker and will be division champs with a first-round bye if they win at Cincinnati next Sunday. The Ravens managed to hold off upset-minded Cleveland 20-14. Ray Rice ran for 87 yards and caught one of Joe Flacco’s (FLAK’-ohz) two touchdown passes.

— Backup quarterback Charlie Batch directed Pittsburgh to a 27-0 romp over the Rams while starter Ben Roethlisberger (RAWTH’-lihs-bur-gur) rested an ankle injury. Rashard Mendenhall accounted for 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Giants have bragging rights in the New York area after a 29-14 win over the Jets. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for two TDs and Victor Cruz caught three balls for 164 yards, including a 99-yard scoring reception that set a franchise record. The G-Men will be NFC East champs if they beat Dallas next Sunday night at the Meadowlands.

—The Cowboys will enter that game on a down note. The Philadelphia Eagles, who were eliminated from the playoff hunt earlier in the day, still had enough incentive to whack Dallas 20-7. Cowboys QB Tony Romo injured his throwing hand on the first series and did not play afterward.

— Tom Brady rallied New England to a 27-24 win over Miami that clinched a playoff bye for the Patriots. The Pats’ star quarterback ran for two touchdowns and threw for third score to help bring his team back from a 17-0 halftime deficit and post its seventh straight W.

— Tim Tebow (TEE’-boh) threw a career-high four interceptions and Denver dropped a 40-14 decision in Buffalo that snapped the Bills’ seven-game skid. Denver lost its second in a row while squandering a chance to inch closer to clinching its first playoff berth since 2005. The Broncos fall to 8-7 and into a first-place tie with Oakland in the AFC West.

— Sebastien Janikowski’s 36-yard field goal 2:13 into overtime lifted the Raiders past the Chiefs 16-13 in Kansas City. It was his third of the game.

— David Akers kicked four field goals, including a 39-yarder with 2:57 left to give San Francisco a 19-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Akers set an NFL single-season record with his 42nd field goal, breaking the record set by Arizona’s Neil Rackers in 2005. The win keeps the Niners in position for No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

— Cam Newton broke Peyton Manning’s single-season rookie record for passing yardage in Carolina’s 48-16 whacking of Tampa Bay. Newton threw for 171 yards and three TDs, including a 91-yard scoring pass to Brandon LaFell that is the longest in franchise history. It’s the Buccaneers ninth straight loss.

Cincinnati survived a fourth-quarter rally by Arizona and beat the Cardinals 23-16 to keep its postseason hopes alive. Rookie QB Andy Daulton had two TD passes to help the 9-6 Bengals secure only their third winning record in the last 21 years.

Tennessee is still alive in the playoff race thanks to a 23-17 win over Jacksonville that snapped a two-game losing streak. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 350 yards and a touchdown. The 8-7 Titans head to Houston for their finale with a chance at their first winning record since 2008.

Minnesota snapped a six-game losing streak by topping Washington 33-26. Joe Webb threw for two scores and ran for a third after subbing for starting quarterback Christian Ponder, who suffered a concussion early in the second half. Adrian Peterson suffered a torn knee ligament that tempered the win. The victory takes the Vikes out of the hunt for the No. 1 draft pick, which now will go to either Indianapolis or St. Louis.